“The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program.” – Larry Niven
What is Jet Kave?
Jet Kave is a 2.5D platformer that has the player jump around as Kave, the banished chief who must save his island and people … luckily he found an alien jetpack to help him along the way! Originally developed for the Nintendo Switch a little over a year ago, this stone-age adventure makes its way to PC and Xbox today!
Developer: 7 Levels
Released: November 2019
Price: £12.49 – £17.99
Platforms: Windows, Switch, Xbox
Available on: Steam, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft
Playing Jet Kave
Jet Kave consists of four worlds, each with nine levels (36 in total); introduced throughout are a variety of platforming mechanics, a total of 30 types of enemies, different challenges and gameplay styles as well as a selection of boss fights. This all works together to provide a gradual (but very noticeable) increase in complexity and difficulty, making the game progressively more challenging and ultimately satisfying.
Jet Kave’s protagonist has all the abilities one might expect from an adventure-platformer such as run, crouch and, of course, jump. However, the jetpack that he finds affords him more interesting additional moves, namely hover and dash and his club and slingshot allow him to bash and shoot things, providing the player has collected or bought enough rocks to use as ammo!
It is worth noting the jetpack has limited fuel, this means that the player can only hover for a short amount of time and dash can only be used once. Fuel will start to recover quickly once the player is grounded but the limitations mean that in more hectic sections they must be used precisely and on occasion, with a little reservation.
Health is represented by hearts and can be topped up by eating storable food found throughout the worlds or completely replenished by reaching one of the frequent checkpoints. Running out of health results in death but this merely returns the player to the previous checkpoint and fairly unpunishing for the most part.
Along with all the jumping and dashing and the ever-evolving enemies and environmental threats such as thorns and falling sand, Jet Kave also dots chases, various flying sections, arenas and boss fights within the different levels to really keep the gameplay fresh for the duration of the experience. Unfortunately, whilst there were detailed illustrated instructions for the basic mechanics at the start of the game, later sections introducing new gameplay were not so informative, despite the controls being much less intuitive.
Jet Kave is a pretty linear game but the flightier sections are very much on rails and include high speed vertical or side-scrolling with the jetpack, or the particular unintuitive jetpack-powered glider. Similarly, there are intense chases that ramp up the difficulty. All of these variations of gameplay are lengthy considering their total lack of checkpoints, require good timing and precision which when teamed with unfamiliar controls often resulted in a somewhat frustrating difficulty spike that felt both jarring and misplaced.
Fun arena-style fights in which the player must defeat a specific number of foes before progressing appear throughout. Increasingly difficult boss fights also occur more than once per world and are a highlight of the game. Each one features a unique and dynamic enemy, for example, a mammoth, an alien or a pterodactyl, which evolve throughout the fights, adapting and introducing new attacks as Kave gets closer to defeating it. Damage is also taken on contact making opponents with bigger hitboxes (such as the mammoth) especially difficult in the restricted, single-screen fight area.
Collectibles and Upgrades
Each level in Jet Kave also has a golden trophy to find; collecting all 36 will reward the player with one of three bigger decorative trophies. The ability to smash things and sometimes find and collect ammo or food that can be used to recover health is also a saving grace during some of the more challenging sections of the game.
There are also a number of shells to collect in each level, most of these must be found in the environment but extras are awarded based on the amount of health and food the player has when they complete the level. Jet Pack features a beach shop where weapon and character upgrades can be purchased with shells, with each tier of upgrade costing a larger amount fo the last. Available upgrades include things such as maximum health increase, weapon improvements, extra food slots and another purely ornamental trophy!
Jet Kave can easily be completed within 8-10 hours, however, it provides heaps of replayability via different play modes, challenges, achievements (unless you’re on Switch) and online leader boards. While each level can be played somewhat casually and at the player’s pace, they also each include three challenges for anyone wanting more of an arduous trial. One of the challenges is to take no damage for the entire level, another requires the player to collect at least a certain amount of shells, and perhaps most interestingly, there are timed challenges.
Timed challenges fall into two categories: with or without damage. Players can track their personal best and there is a specific time to beat for each level, however, these are often quite short, unforgiving times which require precise speed-running. Additionally, for some truly competitive gameplay, Jet Kave also allows features online leader boards that are (hopefully) full of speedy rivals to race against.
Upon completing the game, an arcade mode is also unlocked. In this version players have limited number of lives, reaching a checkpoint no longer replenishes health and extra lives can be bought only between levels so losing them all means game over. This, along with a decent number of achievements that range from downright silly to truly testing, provides yet more reasons to revisit the game.
Jet Kave’s Narrative and Styling
Jet Kave merges prehistoric and sci-fi genres to explain the varied mechanics and movement styles. However, reasoning is in short supply as the game features minimal narrative design, a vague story and little to no character development. The charming cave art style way in which the story is delievered is the best thing about it, this is not a game for people who want context, logic or more thoughtful, in-depth exposition.
Visuals and Audio
The game is made up of four worlds, each with their own unique environments such as a set of caves or a rainforest that really help to keep the visuals interesting as well as emphasising the sense of progression for the player. In general, it has a very jolly, cartoonish aesthetic with bright colours and warm lighting. It also cleverly layers artwork and animations to create depth and give an expansive feeling to the environments
Jet Kave includes some fun and immersive sound effects to really help place the player in the game world. This is emphasised by the stylised and thematic music, heavily featuring percussion and instruments such as the marimba to create something of a tropical sound. The effect is energetic but not frantic and fits the bulk of the game well. For more intense moments such as the chases and flying sections, the music gets rockier (pun intended) with electric guitars shredding and competing with angry drums which works well to help build adrenaline and impose a sense of impending danger.
Jet Kave is an exciting and varied game, mixing genres and gameplay to help the game continue to feel fresh despite the undeniably repetitive nature of platformers in general. Whilst it remains challenging throughout, it lends itself to a more casual style of play whilst also providing a range of ways for players to challenge themselves and add difficulty if desired. A single playthrough is relatively short but replayability (and additional value) is provided in a number of ways, especially for the more skilled and more competitive of players.
In conclusion, Jet Kave doesn’t do anything particularly original or reinvent (invent?) the wheel but it is a well made 2.5D platformer, with smooth controls and varied gameplay that I’d happily recommend to fans of this genre!
Want more dinosaurs? Take a looks at Jurassic World Evolution – A Building Sim with Bite!
Or for more platformer reviews, click here.